Winner of Langley Arts Council B.C. wide portrait competition surprised and pleased

For a second year, the B.C. Wide Portrait Competition returned to the Aldergrove Kinsmen Community Centre, with nine artists competing for top honours at the Sunday, Feb. 5, event, hosted by the Langley Arts Council (LAC).

The event featured nine B.C. based artists who randomly selected one of three sitters as live models for the artists; David Williamson, president of Langley Little Theatre, Diane Gendron, Langley Arts Council director and musician, and Karyna Barros, a celebrity stylist and costume designer.

Artists had four hours to complete a portrait in their chosen medium.

After two-and-a-half hours, the event was opened to the public, with an estimated 250 attendees dropping by to see artists John Hall, Kaiden Alford, Susannah White, Molly Gray, Juan Pablo Vega, Shannon Thiesen, Alex Greghi, Doris Biddle, and Carla Maskall battle it out.

Shannon Thiesen won for her portrait of Karyna Barros, with honorable mentions awarded by the jury to artists Alex Greghi and Carla Maskall.

Thiesen was pleasantly surprised by her victory, saying she took part for the experience.

“It’s an incredible opportunity for artists [who don’t usually have the chance] to work with live models,” Thiesen told the Langley Advance Times.

While the Port Coquitlam resident has won other art competitions, this was her first live portrait event.

Thiesen commented that she has two “full-time jobs,” artist, and grade school teacher.

Her win came with certificates for art supplies and framing, and entry into an art exhibition.

Thiesen said she developed her love of art at an early age, courtesy of copying from a classmate who was a talented artist.

When the classmate left, Thiesen continued to make art.

“I realized I had some skills,” she recalled.

Freda Lombard, Langley Arts Council’s event coordinator, expects the Aldergrove event will return for a third year.

“We are thrilled to put on another edition of the BC-Wide Portrait Competition in Aldergrove, and look forward to building on this event in 2024,” Lombard said, thanking all who attended.

LAC Staff and Board of Directors thanked the community for their support, the artists for participating, and sponsors for their generous donations, including Kroma Artists Acrylic, Opus Art Supplies, the Downtown Langley Business Association, and Willowbrook Art Gallery.

Anyone looking to be a part of the event in 2024 as an artist, sitter, or sponsor should email

More images from the event can be viewed online at the Langley Advance Times Facebook page.